Cross‐cultural environmental research and management: Challenges and progress
Moller, Henrik; Stephenson, Janet
The Royal Society of New Zealand encouraged this Forum on cross-cultural environmental research and management following the publication of a special issue of the New Zealand Journal of Zoology in September 2009 called "Mātauranga Māori, science and seabirds" (Moller 2009). Mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) is concerned with all aspects of Te Ao Māori (the Māori world view), including their version of what overseas scholars have variously termed Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), Traditional Knowledge, Local Knowledge, Ethnoscience or Ethnobiology. The most widely used definition of TEK is "a cumulative body of knowledge, practice, and belief, evolving by adaptive processes and handed down through generations by cultural transmission, about the relationship of living beings (including humans) with one another and the environment" (Berkes 2008: 7). Mātauranga Māori, and especially its interface with science, is a particularly important issue for New Zealand because of its colonial history, the partnership principles derived from the Treaty of Waitangi, and the government's Vision Mātauranga to 'unlock the innovation potential of Māori Knowledge, Resources and People' (MoRST 2005). The Mātauranga Māori, science and seabirds special issue of New Zealand Journal of Zoology featured 10 papers from the Kia Mau Te Tītī Mo Ake Tonu Atu ("Keep the Tītī Forever") research project. Tītī is the Māori term for 'muttonbirds', the chicks of sooty shearwater (Puffinus griseus). The 'tītī project' was a 14-year collaboration of Rakiura Māori kaitiaki (environmental guardians) and their mātauranga with University of Otago ecologists and mathematicians (Moller et al. 2009c). Its main aim was to assess the sustainability of the current harvest of tītī and identify ways that the tītī can remain plentiful enough for the Rakiura mokopuna (grandchildren) to be able to continue their cultural heritage of muttonbirding. However, another aim of the project was compare science and mātauranga (or TEK in its international context) as ways of knowing and guiding ecological management. As the tītī project is a long-running and detailed example of a cross-cultural science-mātauranga partnership, the Royal Society of New Zealand enabled us to invite a range of researchers to comment on the lessons from the tītī project, and more generally to explore challenges and enablers of partnerships between knowledge systems of different cultures.
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Rights Statement: © 2009 Taylor & Francis
Keywords: cross-cultural; environmental management; indigenous; research; New Zealand
Research Type: Journal Article